The American Wildlife Conservation Partners may just be the great- est friend hunters have ever had. Each year, representatives of 38 major hunting organizations meet as partners to discuss national-level wildlife and hunting issues. On August 16, 2007, the Conservation Partners met in Texas, and White House representatives were there to announce that President Bush had just signed an Executive Order entitled “Facilitation of Hunting Heritage and Wildlife Conservation.” The moment a president signs an Executive Order, the Order becomes law. Whatever is in the Order will be done, and this one is filled with good things for hunting.
The Order directs federal agencies that manage public lands, outdoor recreation, and wildlife management to facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting opportunities and the management of game species and their habitats. This means continued hunting on Nat-ional Wildlife Refuges (the Humane Society of the United States will not like this). This also means that the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U. S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Manage-ment, and other federal agencies must take hunting and hunters into account more than they have in the past; the Executive Order mandates that they do this. The Order also states that these agencies will take “actions that expand and enhance hunting opportunities,” “address declining trends,” and “manage wildlife and habitat in a manner that expands and enhances hunting opportunities.”
It goes on to say that these agencies will consider the economic and recreational value of hunting, and work with states to manage wildlife in a manner that respects private property rights and state authority over wildlife. The President’s Council on Environmental Quality has not always been a friend of hunting. However, the Order states that within one year, and periodically thereafter, the President’s Council will convene a “White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy” to facilitate the goals in the Order. Within a year of each White House Conference, the Chairman shall prepare a “Comprehensive Recreational Hunting and Wildlife Con-servation Plan” aimed at implementation.
In 2006, the Secretary of the Depart-ment of the Interior created the Sporting Conservation Council to advise the De-partment of the Interior on hunting and wildlife issues. This Council’s purpose is to “provide input in the areas of habitat restoration and protection, and to assess the impact of energy development on wildlife resources, forest and rangeland health, and hunting access to federal lands.” Twelve members of the Council represent some of the major hunting organizations in the U.S.
At a White House conference on cooperative conservation in August 2005, the American Wildlife Conservation Partners provided the impetus to get this Executive Order created and signed by the President
We owe both the American Wildlife Conservation Partners and the Sporting Conservation Council a huge “thank you.” At a time when hunter numbers are declining, and when societal values would benefit from hunting trips to wildlife habitat, this Executive Order is crucial. In fact, the goals of the Order may be the biggest step toward addressing the above concerns that has ever taken place. The future of hunting just got a bit rosier thanks to President Bush, The American Wildlife Conservation Partners, and the Sporting Conservation Council.
Other Wildlife News
•Big game hunting on private fenced preserves has come under fire of late because of ethics considerations. In August, a proposed ballot initiative was presented to the North Dakota Secretary of State that would abolish big game hunting on the 100 preserves in North Dakota. I’ll keep you posted.
•Animal-rights groups have been hoping studies would lead to a deer contraceptive that requires only one inoculation. Supposedly, a 90-percent contraception rate will effectively control deer numbers. However, on August 9, the Newark Star-Ledger reported that contraceptives tested on a captive deer herd were only 70 percent effective after one year, and 55 percent after two. This research puts a real damper on the possibility of finding a one-inoculation contraceptive. Communities need to quit listening to animal-rights groups that continue to offer “solutions” for reducing deer numbers. They should just move ahead with bowhunts, which have proven very effective in controlling deer in the suburbs of America.
•Meanwhile, New Jersey officials continue to place effective bear management on the back burner in response to animal-rights “solutions.” In late July, Lisa Jackson, state environmental commiss-ioner, issued a policy that does not in-clude hunting as a way to resolve ever-growing human/bear conflicts in New Jersey. This is the same person who blocked the 2006 bear hunt, and her new draft bear management policy relies on nonlethal measures to control bears. These measures include the requirement of citizens to use bear-proof trashcans, as well as the implementation of public education programs. The state Game Council has backed off on pushing for a hunt in 2007. Perhaps they realize that nonlethal measures will not work, and that irate citizens will then force Jackson to quit playing politics and allow a yearly hunt to control bear numbers. Time will tell.